Whew! What a week!
As a teacher, work is very cyclical and challenging in different ways throughout the semester. For the first two weeks of the semester, I got to spend more time lesson planning and reconnecting with students. Now that we are three weeks in, I have all that AND mounds of grading that needs to be done. The beginning of the semester honeymoon is over.
Also, this week we experienced some pretty severe weather. This year we are having the repeating and continuous threat of flooding in the area, especially in the area where I work. To top it off, the school where I work lost power on Wednesday evening and didn’t return until almost 2 on Thursday. The powers that be decided that school shouldn’t be canceled, so we spent the day teaching in dark, cold classrooms without working bathrooms or running water. Ugh! We did have port-a-potties, but if you can imagine sharing a port-a-potty with middle and high school students you can probably also imagine the horrors that go along with that. I am so exhausted and made some not-so-great choices this week.
Still, I can’t help but put a positive spin on the week. To start, the challenges that I am facing at work have reinforced the fact that I am unhappy at work and it is time to move on. This has prompted me to re-write my resume so that I am ready when the time comes to apply for jobs for next school year.
And my questionable food choices are so much better than they were before. I ate out a couple of time this week, but I didn’t spend the weekend in a face full of nachos. Its all relatives.
So, here is what we ate this week:
Breakfasts (on repeat):
- Italian Sausage or Chorizo with Easy Weekday Potatoes
- Eggs and Bacon with Fruit
- Lots of Kale for me! (Not B)
- Lots of leftovers for both B and I
- Monday: Mongolian Beef ~ Fed and Fit Website
- Tuesday:Creole Jambalaya ~ Fed and Fit Cookbook page 248
- Wednesday: Tandori Chicken Nuggets ~ Fed and Fit Cookbook 258
- Served with white rice (not paleo) and roasted purple cauliflower
- Chipotle on Thursday because there was no was I was cooking
- Friday: Grilled Steak and Asparagus
- Saturday: Taqueria Carne asada, spanish rice (not paleo), fajita veggies and avocado.
- Crossfit Monday and Tuesday (and I am REALLY needed to squeeze in one more day)
- Yoga: Saturday
I have heard this topic discussed quite a bit in recent weeks and want to share my story because I think it might be a familiar one.
I had been doing Crossfit for about 6 months when I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet. I quickly saw the benefits to my digestion, but my husband saw it as a major annoyance. He didn’t really even know what gluten was. He only knew that it meant that it was much more difficult for us to chose a restaurant or agree on groceries.
When I made my shift to a full paleo diet, I made a lot of the mistakes that many paleo newbies make. I ate too low carb and I frequently skipped meals because I couldn’t find a paleo option. One night I even ate only bacon for dinner because I didn’t plan ahead and it was what we had. Then I’d binge eat nachos on the weekend because I was basically starving myself during the week.
I provided our daughter with paleo food, that was fine with him. However, he certainly wasn’t going to do the same. We had major fights about his food choices (and consequently hers and we both dug in hard. His argument was that she ate better than most of the kids he saw at school. Mine argument was that the Standard American Diet (SAD) wasn’t much of a comparison. I think the low point was when he took her to the “Pancake Store” (McDonald’s) and told her not to tell me.
We were dietary adversaries instead of a team.
Things have gotten significantly better over time. He doesn’t eat a paleo diet, but he is supportive of mine. I know that we could have gotten to this point more quickly, and changing my approach could have made all of the difference.
Here are a few things I wish I would have done when I started:
- Set priorities and be willing to make compromises. Now that I have been doing this for awhile, I know that gluten is a never food for me. It is sometimes easier for us to find a gluten free option than it is to find a paleo option at a restaurant. For example, my husband loves pizza, but he can handle only eating it every other month. Gluten free pizza is far from a top pick of mine, but it saves him an extra trip to another restaurant if I am willing to make this compromise. In turn, he has been much more willing to compromise on his end. I have recently added things like white rice and potatoes into the rotation. For some, this is a paleo no-no. For us, it make this a sustainable lifestyle.
- Don’t be in a rush. A 30 day strict, squeaky clean paleo diet isn’t going to completely change your health. And while the occasional gluten free waffle might slow down your progress a tad (but probably not), if you are able to find a more balanced approach you are more likely to stick to this lifestyle. It shouldn’t feel like torture, and you should learn to eat well without feeling deprived. If you take this approach, you will be less likely to freak out when your husband surprises you with tacos when you were planning on sitting down to a strict paleo meal.
- Make it easy. If your significant other didn’t choose this lifestyle AND it comes with a bunch of extra work, it is more likely to cause resentment. We now have a handful of restaurants locally where I can find choices I feel great about. My husband now knows what I would likely order at each place. I could have made it easier for him at the beginning by doing my research before I started mandating paleo only meals. Even better, I could have made a list of places and options for my husband when he wanted to surprise me by picking up dinner. Also, I have taken on almost all of the meal planning and prep for the family. As he has figured out the types of things I like to make, he slowly started to take some of that back on.
- Consider their likes. My husband will probably never eat broccoli. Putting it into a stir fry means there is no way in hell he will eat it. If I stir fry some broccoli on the side, we can both happily eat an almost identical meal. Additionally, I strongly suggest getting Cassy Joy Garcia’s Fed and Fit book. She has developed many of the recipes with her husband in mind. My husband has loved everything that I have made from this book.
I think this would have helped make this transition so much easier for us. What are some things that helped you maintain a paleo lifestyle with a non-paleo significant other?
Last week, we had a pretty successful week. B returned to school and I returned to work after 3 weeks off. I know, feel bad for me.
You would think that those I could have used some of those three weeks off to do a little extra meal prep for those three days off, but unfortunately our fridge said it’s final farewell, taking with it everything in our fridge and all of the premise meals I had been saving for future go to meals. We without a fridge for 8 days and Our new one didn’t come until the Friday before I returned to work.
Most of last weekend was spent prepping and restocking the fridge. I did another prep day on Wednesday to help get us through the week.
Here’s what we ate last week:
- Me:Leftovers on repeat
- B: lunchmeat, frozen veggies, a clementine and lemony blueberry muffins from Practical Paleo 2nd Edition or leftovers
I did all of my cooking in 2 evenings with minimal prep and cooking on a third night. I also managed to go to Crossfit 2 times and went back to Yoga on Saturday after a month-long hiatus.
I am not sure why, but I had an intense craving for Swedish Meatballs this week. I think it was because my mom mentioned that she was going to Ikea.
My post paleo cravings are nothing like the ones I had before I started paleo. Even though I have never really had a sweet tooth, I would get these intense cravings for random sweets from time to time. The biggest one was usually chocolate cake…. mmmmmh.
So, when I do get a craving, I do my best to satisfy it before it becomes an obsession. This one is tricky because it is made with both gluten (always a no-no for me) AND dairy. I recently reintroduced dairy into my diet. While I didn’t have the stomach issues I used to have, I am having some pretty serious breakouts on my neck. I think this is mostly due to stress (work has been a beast!), but I don’t think the dairy is helping.
I will warn you that this recipe takes WAAAY longer than I would usually like to spend in the kitchen. However, I was able to make a bunch of meatballs for B’s lunches this week and that will save me some time in the long run.
For the meatballs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
For the gravy
- 4 cups beef broth
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup of arrowroot powder
- 2-3 tbsp parsley for garnish
For the meatballs:
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a skillet. Add the diced onions and saute until they are translucent (about 4 minutes). Once they are cooked through, add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant (about another 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. I add the onions last to give them time to cool.
- Add the remaining olive oil to a large skillet, preferably one with high sides. Using a table spoon, make round meatballs and place them into the skillet, turning frequently. I did them in batches of about 10 so that they wouldn’t be overcrowded. Every 1-2 minutes, rotate the meatballs so that they are able to brown on all sides. Once they are browned on all sides, remove them and set aside. Add more meatballs and continue to work in batches until all of the meatballs have been cooked.
For the gravy:
- One you have finished with the meatballs, pour the coconut milk into the skillet. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in beef broth and cook, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Continue adding the remaining ingredients, whisking as you go. Keep the mixture on a low boil, whisking frequently, until the mixture has reduced to the desired consistency (about 3/4 of the volume as when you started).
- Stir in meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 1o minutes.
- Garnished with parsley and serve. I recommend serving with spaghetti squash.
My daughter will not eat eggs. If she can see them, they won’t go into her mouth. As I have said before, I love them. That makes breakfast a bit of a challenge, especially when I am scrambling to get to work by 7:30 am.
I like to have these sausages on hand to give to her for breakfast, but it is also great in a sausage potato soup.
- 20 oz ground pork
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp sage
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1-2 tsp cooking oil of choice (bacon fat is my favorite!)
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. I find that combining these with my hands works best.
- Melt your fat of choice over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Portion out your sausages to the desired size. I use an ice cream scoop to get consistent sized portions and then pat them down into patties.
- Cook In small batches for 3-4 minutes per side until they are cooked through.
This makes about 12-14 sausages.
We just got home from our family Crossfit night. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my daughter B goes to a Crossfit Kids class. Our box also offers an outdoor WOD at the same time. Going to that class is a no brainer because my kiddo is occupied and happy while I am getting my workout in.
The only downside is that we don’t get home until about 6:15. During the winter, when it is dark so early, my daughter is usually tucked in bed by 7:30. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for dinner prep. Also, I still have quizzes to print for my classes tomorrow.
Tonight, we had my Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings that I prepped last night. After a WOD, I also like something a little more carb heavy on my plate, so I decided to make these super easy homefries. They shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes from start to finish.
Also, if you aren’t sure if potatoes are considered paleo or not… it depends on who you ask. And if you ask me…. We eat them.
- 4 cups cubed red potatoes, cut to your desired size*
- 1-2 tbsp bacon grease (sub butter or coconut oil if you don’t have any)
- 3 green onions
- Put cubed potatoes in a microwave safe bowl. I usually cut them and place them directly into my 4-cup measuring cup like this one.
- Microwave on high for 6 minutes.
- When the microwave has about a minute left, add your bacon grease to a large pan and melt on medium heat. When the potatoes are done, add them to the melted grease. (Be careful, the moisture can cause some splattering!)
- Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes on medium to medium high heat, stirring occasionally making sure not to let them burn. When you have about 2 minutes left, chop your green onions and add them to the potatoes.
- Serve hot. These make an excellent side for any meal.
* Smaller potatoes will cook faster and be crispier.
A lot of people have success doing all of their meal prep on Sunday. I have found that when I do that, we are mostly out of food by Thursday. Is it possible that my family’s appetite directly correlates with the amount of food that’s in the fridge. Make more = eat more?
I also am one of the many people who struggle with eating well on the weekends. I plan my meals to the most minute detail Monday through Thursday, but wrongly assume that when I have more time on the weekends, that it will be easier to make decisions. In reality, my lack of planning through the weekends has made it easy for my family to land face first into a plate of nachos. (Mmmhhh….Nachos!)
So, more recently I have made Wednesday my second meal prep day.
I try to always go to the gym on Monday nights because it feels so good to start my week off right. My daughter attends Crossfit Kids classes on Tuesday and Thursday, so these are guilt free gym nights. That makes Wednesday my most logical rest day. Wednesday is also the day that our local grocery store releases their weekly ad. I can almost always get inspiration from what is on sale that week.
Tonight I did my mid-week trip to the store. Here is what I made:
- Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Lemon (dinner tonight, breakfast tomorrow)
- Pan Seared Grassfed Sirloin Steak (dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow for me and B)
- Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries (dinner tonight, breakfast for B tomorrow)
- Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings (post Crossfit dinner tomorrow, lunch Friday)
- Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts (lunch tomorrow, dinner tomorrow)
- Easy Weekday Homefries ~ Recipe coming soon! (dinner tomorrow night)
Friday night, we will have leftovers, or something from the freezer. I start my meal planning,grocery shopping and prep for the week again on Saturday so that I can beat the Sunday rush at the store.
What is your meal prep schedule?
My daughter loves cinnamon. She loves it so much, at some point I may have to rename this blog “Things I Put Cinnamon On”. Perhaps that can be my new tagline.
She is also willing to eat most orange food. Pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots…. if its orange it gets eaten.
These don’t look amazing, but they kind of taste like french toast and B can’t get enough.
- 1 huge or 2 smaller sweet potatoes, peeled
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 400 ° F.
- Cut sweet potatoes into fries of desired thickness. B likes thicker, softer fries. I like mine thin and crispy. Place on a large baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Melt coconut oil and pour over fries. Add cinnamon and stir toss using your hands on the baking sheet.
- Make for 20 minutes, then flip your fries. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until your fries have the desired crisp.
Purees are my super sneaking tool in the never ending fight to get my family to eat more vegetables. While my daughter has a pretty reasonable number of vegetables that she will consume, my husband absolutely hates them. I cannot think of a single vegetable that he would voluntarily eat.
This puree is fantastic to sneak in small quantity into chili. If I sprinkle it with a little bit of cinnamon, my daughter will eat tons of it. She says she likes it better than applesauce and will happily eat it cold. I put some in small containers like these and put them in her lunches.
It can also be frozen in ice cube trays or used as baby food.
- 1 butternut squash
- 1-2 tbsp fat like coconut oil, grassfed butter, etc. (optional)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cut the stem and top 1/2 inch off of the butternut squash. Then, cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out seeds.
- Put about an 3/4 inch of water in the bottom of a 9 x 11 inch glass baking dish. Place the butternut squash in, cut side down. Bake for approximately 1 hour, until the squash can be easily pierced.
- CAREFULLY remove the baking dish from the oven. Remember that water is going to be hot. Allow the squash to cool until it can be comfortably touched. Using a fork or your fingers, peel off the skin.
- Place the remaining meat and fat into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
- Add cinnamon if desired.
I hate waste, especially when it comes to animal products. I think it is one of the worst things that we can do to waste what these animals have provided for us. I also hate wasting money. Buying ethically raised animal products is obviously more expensive and we are not rich.
Purchasing and using the whole chicken insures that nothing is going to waste. As often as I can, I try to purchase whole chickens and cut them up to use them for whatever I need for the week. I use the carcass for bone broth (recipe coming soon), but I never knew what to do with the skin. This is a super easy way to make sure that those don’t go to waste and my daughter LOVES them.
- Leftover chicken skins
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 ° F.
- Cut skins into small strips no more than 2 inches long. Place them on a baking sheet or pan.*
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 20-30 minutes.
- Optional: Pat dry with towels to remove excess oil.
*Time saver: I usually use a large roasting pan to cook these skins because they tend to splash grease all over my oven when they are cooking and I don’t want that. There is also a considerable amount of fat left in the roasting pan when you are done cooking. Once I am done with the chips, I add in veggies and roast them in the same pan. This also cuts down on dishes.